A University of Hawaii email that went out Monday with the subject line, “In the event of a nuclear attack,” generated international media attention and an apology from a school spokesman today.
For Hawaii, however, planning for the possibility of a North Korean missile attack, however remote, has become a new bizarre norm with missiles from the rogue nation now capable of reaching the Aloha State and its high-ranking military commands.
“In light of concerns about North Korea missile tests, state and federal agencies are providing information about nuclear threats and what to do in the unlikely event of a nuclear attack and radiation emergency,” the email said.
The message was sent to 51,674 students and 10,606 faculty and staff in the UH system.
“For this type of event, the ten campuses of the University of Hawaii will rely on the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency siren system and follow agency instructions on ‘sheltering in place,’” the email said.
A link also was provided to the state emergency management website. The agency is working on a state preparedness plan for the possibility of a North Korean nuclear attack.
The unusual nature of a university system alerting its constituency to the possibility of a North Korean attack attracted the attention of national and international media, including The Washington Post, Fox News, CBS News and the Daily Mail of London.
“This is entirely my responsibility — right down to the subject line,” Dan Meisenzahl, director of UH system communications, said today. “So I take full responsibility and the last thing I wanted to do was cause any unnecessary concern among our community.”
Meisenzahl said he stands by the body of the email. The mistake was the subject line. He said at the least, he should have worded it, “In the event of an unlikely nuclear attack.”
“Because of recent events I think over the last two or three months, (UH) leadership, including emergency managers and communicators, had been getting inquiries from a variety of different members of our community regarding (the North Korea issue), and were wondering what we were doing about it,” Meisenzahl said today.